Adam Lapid Mysteries – Jonathan Dunsky, author

Ten Years Gone is the first book in a series featuring Adam Lapid, a private detective in Tel Aviv. Throughout the series, Adam Lapid is both typical and unique.

WARNING: This series has graphic violence. (It is a private detective series — after all…passive behavior would not fit)

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of TEN YEARS GONE, Book 1 in the Adam Lapid Mysteries Series

“Adam Lapid?”

I looked up from my chessboard at the woman who had just said my name.

She was a small woman. Five foot two and thinner than she had any business being. Lackluster blonde hair pulled back from a high forehead. A faded yellow dress that had been made with a fuller woman in mind. She held her bag in front of her pelvis, worrying the handle with both hands. I recalled that my mother used to hold her bag like that sometimes.

It was half past four and I was seated at my regular table in Greta’s Café. Greta’s was a homey café. Located near the center of Allenby Street, between Brenner and Balfour Streets. Bar and kitchen on the left. A dozen small tables scattered about the rest of the square space. Above, a lazy ceiling fan rattled with each slow revolution, but did little to dispel the heat. Some of Greta’s other customers groused about the rattling, but I hardly noticed it anymore. I frequented Greta’s nearly every day. It was more than a place to eat and drink. It was a second home to me.

“Yes.” I said and gestured to the chair on the other side of my table. The thin woman lowered herself onto it, setting her bag into her lap. “And you are?”

“My name is Henrietta Ackerland,” she said in the tentative Hebrew common to those speaking a new language. She had a pronounced German accent and for a moment I was about to suggest we conduct our conversation in that misbegotten language. The impulse died fast.

Excerpt from Chapter One, “TEN YEARS GONE”

Historic Times and Crime Investigations

Adam Lapid is typical in his career as a private detective after serving as a police detective in the 1930s and 1940s. Adam is unique in that his Jewish fate costs him the law enforcement job. That same Jewishness costs his freedom, landing him in Auschwitz during the war.

Adam is again typical in the haunting heartbreak that pursues literature’s ‘private eyes.’ Adam’s haunting is based in Auschwitz and the Nazi regime.

Typical of the ‘entertainment’, “as seen on TV”, private investigator, Adam is beaten, lashed, stabbed, shot, beaten some more, and seduced. He bounces back within hours because he has a mission to accomplish.

Adam’s crime-solving is stimulated by his near-obsession with chess. He and fellow prisoners in the Nazi death camps played chess on the dirt. Now, he keeps a chess board at Greta’s Café. Adam plays against himself with both black and white pieces battling in blitz sessions. Occasionally, he will play with another human being.

When Writing Makes the Difference

This series doesn’t fit the usual pattern for choices to review at Cardinal Bluff Reviews. I’m putting it in the NOT FLINCH FREE category because of the violence. I’m giving the series a pass because of the ‘clean’ writing all through, plus good editing. Writing makes the difference. (As mentioned in the Turnin’ Pages April diary, I read three books after this one which didn’t make that difference)

Jonathan Dunsky has caught the caricature of a private investigator and placed him in a unique environment. With unique, yet common propensities. I was happily reminded of Garrison Keillor’s character, Guy Noir.

I ‘binge-read’ the entire series. The books were not cookie-cutter plots, but different. There is violence, but little profanity, no vulgarity or gratuitous erotica. I can’t review the books as being ‘flinch-free’ because of the violence. The author’s ability to use a more eloquent vocabulary than many popular thriller authors impressed me. I am attracted to Holocaust literature. That piece drew me to the series first. Then the characters who are so typical of the times during and directly after World War II in Israel kept my attention.

Dunsky had caught the image of WAR and the people living in its midst. World War and neighbors’ deadly unrest in Israel before and after the country was acknowledged. An active blogger at his website,, the author has a great post about his experience writing this series. He has other books besides the nine in the series.

Adam Lapid made quite an impression on me. Recently I’ve read memoirs with a bit of a bitter voice, but often the intense suffering endured in the concentration/extermination camps of World War II is covered after recovery. Adam is a survivor in many ways. He certainly is not unscarred in body and soul.

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